Did Mani Shankar Aiyar commit ‘sedition’ by hosting Pak officials during Gujarat polls?
New Delhi, Dec 28: The events during the recently held Gujarat Assembly elections have definitely caused "irreparable" damage to the career and reputation of now-suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar.
The former diplomat-turned-politician was not directly involved in the strategising of the Congress' campaign for the all-important elections, which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won comfortably.
Nonetheless, the grand old party managed to give a tough fight to the ruling BJP by winning 77 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Legislative Assembly.
When the campaigning for the polls was at its height, Aiyar caught all the wrong attention, first, by calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a "neech aadmi" (man of low birth and upbringing), for which the Congress suspended him as the veteran politician insulted the head of India with his derogatory remark.
Second, he allegedly erred by hosting a dinner party at his residence in the national capital which was attended by Pakistani diplomats, former PM Manmohan Singh, former vice-president Hamid Ansari, former Indian diplomats and former top Indian defence officials, to name a few.
The dinner party at the residence of Aiyar was a major issue during the Gujarat elections. PM Modi alleged during a poll rally that former PM Singh and other Indians present at the dinner party hatched a conspiracy along with Pakistani officials to influence the Gujarat elections and thus committed "treason".
Now, it seems more trouble awaits for the former Union minister as a BJP leader has moved a Delhi court seeking registration of a sedition case against Aiyar for hosting Pakistani officials at his residence that allegedly "posed a threat to the national security".
In his application before a magisterial court in Saket, Ajay Agrawal, a practising lawyer, claimed "derogatory" words were used against PM Modi at the meeting. A court official said the matter has been listed for hearing on January 4, 2018.
The petitioner has sought the court's direction to Delhi police to book Aiyar and others present under conspiracy and sedition charges and investigate the matter.
The plea by Agrawal, who contested the last Lok Sabha election against Sonia Gandhi from Rae Bareli, said the meeting was held at the south Delhi residence of Aiyar which was attended among others by Pakistan's High Commissioner and an ex-foreign minister of that country.
He said the Ministry of External Affairs and the Home Ministry were not informed about the meeting despite India's strained relations with Pakistan.
The petitioner said he had requested the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Delhi police for a probe but in vain.
If the court admits the plea of Agarwal, then it is not just Aiyar, but others including, former PM Singh and former VP Ansari, against whom sedition cases would be filed.
Recently, in a column for the NDTV, Aiyar indicated that he might sue PM Modi.
"In my mind, however, the question will always reverberate: was it my 'inappropriate adjective' or Modi's mendacity in adding an utterly untrue noun--'jaati'--to my adjective that lost us (the Congress) this handful of seats?" Aiyar asked.
While ending the column, the suspended Congress leader raised the question whether he should sue Modi or not? "And, tell me, should I sue the Prime Minister for slander, libel, defamation--or all three?" Aiyar asked.